Today is the launch date for the ABC book "The Pact for Survival" by Dr Jonica Newby who was described by Mr Stuart Littlemore QC as,
"a publicist for something called the Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS), which it seems fair to say, is nothing more than a front for the multi-national pet food manufacturer Mars."
Does our ABC know that the Mars Corporation, besides its sugar and chocolate interests, controls 65% of the Australian pet food market and boasts of feeding one third of the world's pets?
Does the ABC realise it has arguably created a powerful marketing tool for the Mars Corporation? Was that part of the plan?
The Science Show was provided with details of 'Pet foods Insidious Consequences' in 1992. Instead of informing the scientific community of these things the programme has chosen to stay silent. Jonica Newby, meanwhile, has in our view been provided with a comfortable berth from which to launch pro-petfood propaganda. Why?
ABC Books, in a 'Note to Readers', makes a lame disclaimer that PIAS is a non-profit organisation. Don't they realise that propaganda is always made freely available in bucketfuls?
The 'Note to Readers' is a curious addition to an 'independent' ABC book. Why didn't they make a full and frank disclosure?
Can any commercial organisations, for instance other junk food companies, assume an alias and obtain publication of an ABC book? Do any conditions apply?
Mr Littlemore on 3 March 1997 advised us that, "It's a crude and subtle pitch. Jonica Newby didn't tell us to buy Pal in so many words, but to keep pets. Well, we have to buy food for them don't we?"
Mr Littlemore further advised, "She shouldn't have been on the ABC at all." Why did ABC management ignore this advice?
Mr Littlemore described the programmes as, "Arrant tosh, highly
insulting to her audience's intelligence", but it seems to us that the misrepresentation within the book might be worse.
For instance: "Keeping pets may be essential for our health. Research suggests the savings to health care could be in the billions." This sounds oddly like Mr Robyn Williams' article in 'The Australian' February 6 1996. "But they [pets] also have a dramatic effect on people's health... The saving in doctor visits and medicines in Australia is up to $1.5 billion each year as a result of the beneficial effects of pet ownership."
The report of an NHMRC objective independent study into this matter published in The Medical Journal of Australia 7 April 1997 suggested that the dollar health benefits of pet ownership were not 'billions' but zero.
How then does the ABC justify recycling and placing on the permanent record such grandiose claims generated for the Mars Corporation?
At the ABC Radio National Web site it is asserted,
"Scientific events and personalities, scientific fraud, discoveries and broadcasting pranks have been the hallmarks of the Science Show over the past 20 years"
What's gone wrong? Please explain.
There is more. There is always more and it gets worse. For the details please consult:
Dr Tom Lonsdale, Riverstone, NSW
Dr Breck Muir, Long Jetty, NSW
Tel. 043 32 6026